Anne joins us again for a look at 2017 rom several well informed viewpoints. It looks like we are going to be living in interesting times!
The Question: Should strong relationships be formed with those who have different religious views?
January 11, 2016: “A new video has just been released in which Pope Francis very clearly expresses his belief that all of the major religions are different paths to the same God. He says that while people from various global faiths may be “seeking God or meeting God in different ways” that it is important to keep in mind that “we are all children of God”.
The two moral leaders of our time, Pope Francis and The Dali Lama affirm that all paths lead to God. This echoes what Albert Einstein said seventy-five years ago: “Science and religion both lead to the same truth.”
If you have already made the transition to a One Uni-verse View, that all things are connected and work together according to God’s direction, then this Roundtable Discussion is a slam dunk. YES! Strong relationships should be formed with those who have different religious views. In fact, if you are open to forming strong spiritual relationships with everyone who comes across your path without regard to faith, gender, nationality or color, you will see your soul growing by leaps and bounds.
In my ten years as a Chaplain at the United Nations, this one issue was the central thing I took away when I left New York. While there, I got to meet, know and work with leaders from all the world’s religions. That ten-year period in my life was like a Post Graduate Degree in World Religions, and I am truly grateful that I have that experience to inform my understanding of how things are meant to work.
Today there are 4200 religions in the world and each one has a different name for God, just as many of the readers of this column have different nick-names when they are in different social groups. The names change, but the person is the same. As below, so above.
God does not separate us; we separate ourselves. The truth is that even the most difficult of religious zealots has a heart and a mother and a dream for the future. When we are willing to relate to each other on that level, we can see God through our eyes, our friend’s eyes and God’s eye’s as well and all at once.
Here is something both common and special at the same time. When you drop your defenses, and are willing to not have to be right all the time, and show just a little bit of open curiosity about another’s truth, you will find that people are always willing to explain their religious beliefs to you as well as how their religions work. It makes them feel valued and shows you are valuable too.
Then, something close to magic happens. When this moment of unity occurs with another, our hearts come into coherence and beat in rhythm and we find friendship and the discovery that we are one with another person whose belief experience is totally different than our own. This is called Oneness and it is how you feel every time you hear that old Coca-Cola commercial about how “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony!”
Somewhere in each of our hearts we know that special song, which all of us knew when we were four years old. The grownups told us that was just childish and we forgot that song, for the most part.
But as you read this very sentence, your heart longs to experience, once again, that child in you and his song. He still remembers we are all one, and he knows to hold hands with each other, because it is safer that way.
By Chuck Robison
This week we will inaugurate the 45th President of the United States. According to Pew Research more than 60 percent of all white Christians are registered as and vote for Republicans. If this metric describes you, this may be a time of buyer’s remorse. We have all been so busy with so much work and activity that we did not have time to pay much critical attention to the news before the election. Now that Christmas is over and the pace has slowed down a little, we can reflect on what the election has created.
For our next President, we Christians wanted someone different than a young 50% white Hawaiian with a two-degree Ivy League education who wanted to include all Americans in the actions of government. We voted for a 100% white male from Queens, New York to lead us for the next four years. He’s rich, Republican, old, fat and unafraid to state whatever comes into his mind. And he has virtually no experience in leading a government of any size. But his governmental experience in dealing, under the table, with governments all over the globe better qualifies him than any customary experience. He knows how to cheat, hide, steal, manipulate and lie better than any other President we have ever had. This new President can be a player at the poker table of world government and attempt to win with the best of them.
But our buyer’s remorse gives us pause to consider that a government of white male billionaires working for us may not act in our best interests. And the fact that the very first act of the new Congress was to secretly vote out the Ethics organization purposed to keep them honest is sobering.
We are now on a course which will force all of us to get involved in creating a new form of government radically different from the ineffectiveness of the current government. Surely, the first thing will be closing the Electoral College which prevents us from having a one person, one vote democracy while assuring that the billionaires can get whomever they want into any position they wish.
Taking such a dramatic step toward a new government will re-activate all the power tools used in the election process to divide us. Not that we are all that hard to divide. Just dog whistle some of our more popular prejudices and we will turn against anyone.
The 1810’s expression “Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear” implies that if something is not very good to begin with, you cannot do much of value with it. But that is where we are and what we must deal with moving forward. We are going to take what we have and create something remarkable from it.
Above and superseding all the rules of the World’s religions, there are eternal universal spiritual laws. These laws have more power and are more dangerous in their severe punishments for transgressors than any material or religious laws. We do ourselves well to know and obey these laws.
Chief among these laws is the one that states: WE ARE ALL ONE. Separation, divisions and taking sides against a part of God’s creation is doomed to long term failure. All 8 billion of us are in this together and to promote separating ourselves from each other is to deny the truth and to incur the penalties for breaking this primary Universal law.
No better example exists than the American Civil War. Brother against brother brought almost a million deaths and in the end, we still had to learn to live with our brothers and sisters, and we are still learning.
We are all closely connected and our technology mirrors that truth to us every day. We can connect with any person in the world from the palm of our hand with little or no effort. Moreover, the connections we can make with our souls far exceed our technological achievements.
As you consider how to deal with the coming effects of our decision to elect this new President and his new billionaire-led government, start right now to resist anyone who attempts to manipulate you by dividing you from any others. We are all in this together and fortunately, as we begin to act that way, we will discover the truth that we have more in common with all 8 billion of us than we have separating any of us.
The power of the long arm of the Universal laws will guide us to real success.
By Chuck Robison
The Question: “With all of the Christmas commercialization, how do you (the church) balance the true message and importance of Christmas with the enjoyment of all the commercial part that sweeps most of us up?”
I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car this morning that said, “Christmas is for Christ.” Right next to it were four other bumper stickers: “Native Texan”, “I love Beef”, “In God We Trust” and “I am a Christian and I Vote”.
Texans love being patriotic and we love George Bush, either one of them, and we take our Christmas’s very seriously.
Two days after 911, while we were still in shock, George Bush directed us to go out and go shopping. That would be the most patriotic thing we could do. It still is.
Putting the Cash back into Christmas is not only patriotic, but the traditional, old fashioned Texas way to celebrate our best American Holiday. Go out and spend it all, load up your credit cards and set a good example for all real patriotic Americans.
As Christmas approaches you may also wish to give some thought to your eternal soul and its’ growth. This quote from Rumi puts that issue into perspective, as a way to focus on Christmas and the homeless couple looking for a place to stay:
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A Joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the sham, the malice
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
By Chuck Robison
Ancient mythology used the Winged Sun as the symbol for the light shining in us which is God present in all our lives. Much of our mythology is based on the Sun’s movements from Solstice to Solstice and Equinox to Equinox. The Sun is in fact The Light of The World. Jesus may have referred to himself as the Sun of God when he also called himself the Light of the World.
When I was a little boy thinking about Christmas, I thought about quiet candle-lit nights and people traveling in darkness to reach a small town before tax time. Into this darkness came a bright shining light, first as a star and then as the bright eyes of a new-born child. Although I felt the conflict with light and darkness then, it was not until I became an adult that I understood more of the conflict.
T.S. Eliot said it so beautifully:
“We are light, we are attracted to light and yet we also want darkness.
In our rhythm of earthly life we tire of light. We are glad when the day ends, when the play ends; and ecstasy is too much pain.
We are children quickly tired: children who are up in the night and fall asleep as the rocket is fired; and the day is long for work or play.
We tire of distraction or concentration, we sleep and are glad to sleep,
Controlled by the rhythm of blood and the day and the night and the seasons.
And we must extinguish the candle, put out the light and relight it; Forever must quench, forever relight the flame.
Therefore we thank Thee for our little light, that is dappled with shadow.
We thank Thee who hast moved us to building, to finding, to forming at the ends of our fingers and beams of our eyes.”
When light arrives to dispel the darkness it can create fear. The angels counseled those present, “Be Not Afraid”. We are experiencing that fear right now. Those of us who have experienced a new awakening, a new view of the world, a new sense of oneness with all humankind and all of creation rejoice at what we see and experience. It feels like God’s Light shining right out of our hearts.
But for others, a new light, a new way of seeing the world, a new paradigm can be frightening and we cast about for a way to defend ourselves against the fear caused by new ways that disturb our tribal values.
Jon Stewart recently said that the secret of America is that we are trying to bring members of tribes from all over the world to live in a new kind of global harmony. It is a difficult situation and we see in our recent election that this fear has created even more fear and a leader who is a master at playing us with our fears.
When Jesus brought the Light into the world, the Bible records that the darkness was threatened. As the old world dies it will always take steps to preserve itself and the old powers will rise-up to extinguish the light. Moses was pursued by the Pharaoh; Jesus was hunted down by Herod’s troopers. And yet the world changed.
America is now at one of those light extinguishing moments. We now have a choice. We can follow leaders who seek to divide us and turn us against each other, or we can stand our ground and stay firmly in the light of God’s oneness. The choice belongs to every one of us and it is ongoing.
But the sun will rise, light will shine down upon us and from within us and the new world will arrive. And God, not hate-filled leaders, will prevail.
Guner is a Muslim who founded the Dialogue Institute Southwest to improve the conversation between Muslims and members of other religions in the Austin area.
Mary Beth is a much loved teacher and Consciousness Student here in Austin and she is extremely kind.
Eugene joins us for a Austin Kindness & Wisdom interview. Eugene is both a local and a national player in funding, technology and computer issues.